I heard a bird sing in the dark of December
A magical thing and sweet to remember.
"We are nearer to Spring than we were in September."
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.
-Oliver Herford, I Heard a Bird Sing
The late Poet Oliver Herford didn't have hearing loss. If he had, the robin's solstice song would have been silent. So why, as a person with hearing loss, am I fascinated with a poem about a bird I will never be able to hear?
I grew up on an Oklahoma farm. From spring through summer, male Scissor-tailed Flycatchers did their roadside "sky dances."
They'd soar 100 feet into the air in V-shaped flight then plunge in a zigzag pattern toward the ground. A cackling mating call accompanied their repetitive dance as their scissor tails flapped open and closed. As a child, I remember how visually and audibly stunning the birds were.
Several seasons passed and I grew up and moved away. By the winter of 2001, I was a new mom caring for an infant, making up songs to lull him to sleep. I was elated and exhausted. My voice sounded so weak that I had trouble hitting the high notes. There was this unexplained ringing noise inside my ears. The sound reminded me of the summer's fowl and insect chorus on the Oklahoma farm and it never quieted.
My doctor diagnosed me with tinnitus, or ringing of the ears. The reason: an unexplained hearing loss that would get progressively worse.
Eleven years later, I still hear that ringing. The melody of birds chanting and calling and warbling and trilling playing 24-hours a day, seven days a week inside my ears. I have accepted that bird song. It plays in the warm breezes of spring and summer, in the blowing winds of fall, and in the numbing, wintry gusts.
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December
We are nearer to
Spring than we were in September
I will always hear that bird sing.
Ask Lipreading Mom
Shanna Groves was diagnosed with progressive hearing loss after the birth of her first child. She was 27. Raised in a hearing family, Shanna traces her hearing loss to a genetic loss on the paternal side of her family. She is mom to three young children, a published author, and speaker. Her books are featured at www.ShannaGroves.com. Shanna blogs about being a hard of hearing mom at http://LipreadingMom.com.